Cleveland ranks 4th poorest

By Joe Milicia The Associated Press

CLEVELAND – Cleveland was ranked as the nation’s fourth poorest big city yesterday after spending two of the last three years at the top of the U.S. Census Bureau’s list.

Cleveland was behind Detroit, Buffalo, N.Y., and Cincinnati, which jumped from No. 8 on last year’s list, according to data from the American Community Survey. The rankings reflect the number of people living below the poverty level in 2006.

The survey indicates that 27 percent of Cleveland’s population was below the poverty level last year, compared with 32.4 percent in 2005.

Cincinnati, which had 27.8 percent of its residents living in poverty in 2006, has seen increases in each of the last three years. The Ohio River city was No. 22 in 2004 with 19.6 percent and last year entered the top 10 with 25 percent living in poverty.

Although Cincinnati ranked one spot ahead of Cleveland, when accounting for the margin of error, the estimates for the two cities were not significantly different.

The ranking includes all U.S. cities with 250,000 or more people.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson recently questioned the methodology of the poverty ranking, pointing out that Cleveland ranked 12th in poverty two years ago.

“It really doesn’t mean anything,” Jackson said yesterday. “We went from 1 to 12 to 1. Now we’re 4. That doesn’t really reflect our overall condition. Cleveland like most major urban centers has problems, particularly Midwestern cities where we have an old industrial base.”

Jackson’s response was far different from former Mayor Jane Campbell, whose administration celebrated losing the unwanted distinction when Cleveland fell from the top of the list to No. 12 in 2005.

Delaware County had the ninth lowest poverty rate among counties with populations between 65,000 and 249,999. Located just north of Columbus, the county had 3.7 percent of its population living in poverty.

Overall, the nation’s poverty rate dropped last year, the first significant decline since President Bush took office.

The Census Bureau reported that 36.5 million Americans, or 12.3 percent, were living in poverty last year – down from 12.6 percent in 2005.